Photos by Joe Lingemn
The perfect baked potato is crispy on the outside and pillowy in the middle. Cracked open and still steaming, it’s ready to receive anything from a sprinkle of cheese to last night’s stew.
Baking a potato in the oven does require a little more time than zapping it in the microwave, but it’s mostly hands-off. You can walk in the door, throw a few potatoes in the oven, and carry on with your after-work routine until they’re ready to eat. Just don’t forget to set a timer! Here’s how to make an absolutely perfect baked potato every time.
What’s the Best Potato for Baked Potatoes?
Russets are the best for baking in the oven. The skins are thicker and the starchy interior has a sweet flavor and fluffy texture when baked. Russets are also usually large (about 6 to 8 ounces). One potato per person makes a good side dish or meal on its own.
Do I Need to Wash a Potato Before I Cook It?
Yes, you should scrub the potatoes thoroughly under running water — a vegetable brush is great for this — and pat them dry. You don’t have to remove the eyes, but trim away any blemishes with a paring knife.
How Long Should I Cook a Baked Potato?
About 50 to 60 minutes at 425°F (220°C).
What’s the Best Way to Store a Baked Potato?
Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. To reheat the potatoes, place them directly on the oven rack in a 325°F oven until warmed through.
How To Bake a Potato
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes to 1 hour
- A fork
- A baking sheet covered in foil
Heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF while you're preparing the potatoes.
Scrub the potatoes clean. Scrub the potatoes thoroughly under running water and pat them dry. You don't have to remove the eyes, but trim away any blemishes with a paring knife.
Rub the potatoes with olive oil. Rub the potatoes all over with a little olive oil. It's easiest to use your hands, but a pastry brush also works fine.
Season the potatoes. Generously sprinkle the potatoes on all sides with salt and pepper.
Prick all over with a fork. Prick the potatoes in a few places with the tines of a fork. This allows steam to escape from the baking potato.
Bake the potatoes. You can bake the potatoes directly on the oven rack, or you can place them a few inches apart on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake the potatoes for 50 to 60 minutes. Flip them over every 20 minutes or so and check them for doneness by piercing them with a fork. The potatoes are done when the skins are dry and the insides feel completely soft when pierced.
- To cut down the baking time, microwave the potatoes for 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave before baking.
- For softer skins, wrap the potatoes in foil before baking.
extra-crispy skins, brine the potatoes. Stir 2 tablespoons kosher salt
into 1/2 cup water until dissolved. Soak each potato in the brine. Drain
and bake directly on the rack as instructed above. Brush with oil
during the last 10 minutes of baking.
Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
How We’ve Re-tested This Recipe
In November 2019, we pitted six of the most popular baked potato methods from around the web against one another to determine the best. The winner was a technique heralded by America’s Test Kitchen, in which the potatoes are brined before they’re baked. Around the same time, we fell in love with a recipe for British-style jacket potatoes from Cup of Jo, which are baked for two hours, split, then baked again.
Given these newfound methods, we felt it was time to look at our own baked potato recipe to see how it stacked up. To determine whether Kitchn’s oven-baked potato recipe needed an update, I spent an afternoon comparing it to the other two methods.
All three of the recipes — Kitchn’s, Cup of Jo’s, and America’s Test Kitchen’s — baked up crispy-crackly on the outside and tender on the inside. The jacket-style potatoes and the brined potatoes, however, required more time and attention than Kitchn’s. For that reason we still feel our method stands up as the best way to make a basic baked potato.
After further testing, we did decide to streamline our recipe, however. We’re now calling for baking the potatoes directly on the oven rack. This means the air flow is unobstructed, so flipping every 20 minutes isn’t necessary, and it reduces cleanup, too. As a nod to America’s Test Kitchen’s winning technique — and because we really did fall for that seasoned, extra-crispy skin — we’ve included brining instructions in the recipe notes should you want to take that extra step.
— Patty, August 2020